Too Many Projects Have You Paralyzed?
I read a great number of blogs of all types for inspiration. The other day, one of the blogs I read posted about how they have this house full of half-done projects and now money is running tight so they're starting a bunch of free projects.
Ladies and gents, this is how you can easily go from being in a state of basic chaos to paralytic overwhelm.
Sound a bit dramatic?
However, considering how many clients tell me they’re overwhelmed by their overflowing to-do lists, I’m cool with bordering on the dramatic.
(And in the performing arts, aren’t we all used to a little over-the-top drama…especially those of us in opera!)
Project overwhelm is something I see regularly with creative folks.
Are you stuck with bunches o' half-done projects and need to know what to do next?
First, make a list of everything that needs to be finished. This gets it down on paper and out of your head. Clearing space in your head is a fabulous thing and goes a LONG way towards getting past the overwhelm.
What on this list is no longer important to you or necessary? Let it go. Stuff that you wouldn’t use even if it were in perfect condition. Projects that don’t light you up. Tasks that don’t move you towards your goals. Whatever doesn’t jazz you up and/or light your hair on fire, cross it off the list. Let it go. Guilt free.
What can be delegated or hired out? Delegate. The projects that neeeed to be done but you maybe don’t have the skills or resources to do it to the level that it needs to be done? Get someone else to do them. If hiring, remember: the money spent is probably far less than the time wasted either in your mind about doing/not doing it - or worse - poorly trying to do it yourself then having to hire out anyway. Figure out your budget (or find a kind friend to volunteer), hire someone who would love to take over this project, and get it off your list. It'll be a win for you both.
Now you’re down to things that are important and that you want to do yourself. WooHoo! Determine what is most important of the important items, and take care of if first. Then the next most important. Then the next. So on and so forth until it’s done!
Pro tip: sometimes when I’m feeling really overwhelmed, I choose a day to tackle all of the small, quick projects. You know, the things that don’t take long but you keep putting off for no real reason? Knocking out a bunch of little things helps us feel more accomplished, frees up time and energy to tackle larger projects, and is a nice momentum starter.
In a budget crunch?
Order the list from most important to least, and plan it out with your budget. This way you've now got a game plan, and it doesn't have to take up precious space in your brain.
what if I have to do multiple projects at the same time?
You're not totally screwed if you have to do multiple projects at once, like for work. Once upon a time I was an event planner, and I planned almost a hundred events a year...majority of which all took place on Saturdays. As an entrepreneur and one-woman-show, I have to do everything pretty much all at once. So I got you.
Do the same steps as above but this time for each project separately. Discard what’s not important. Delegate what you can. Of the remaining tasks, order them by priority. Then work through the list. Put the info in separate file folders for each project if you're analog, or into different lists within your to-do management app if you're digital. (I love TickTick.)
And if you're on a deadline, add tasks into a calendar by deadline. This will help you get a bigger picture look at the project and make sure those deadlines don’t sneak up on you or whoosh past your head!